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I recently heard of a new documentary via Cosmic Variance called Expelled, about how the science establishment routinely beats up on the intelligent design folks, denying them tenure and whatnot. Trailers can be seen here.

One of the points damning evolution the movie makes is that evolution is responsible for the Holocaust (among other things). I admit I have a bit of a soft spot for intelligent design people. By all means I think they should continue to work on their theories as much as they want, and if they come with something vaguely scientific that the rest of us should consider then good for them. In the meantime…

If you claim we should reject evolution because it caused the Holocaust, you might as well claim that nuclear physics is a fiction since it caused the atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The laws of nature don’t change just because you think it would be nice! Evolution, like the inner workings of an atom, is not a legislation that we can repeal once we realise that bad guys can use it to their advantage.

As an aside, a similar argument is sometimes used for the existence of god. Upon discussing my atheism with some missionaries at my door one day, the subject of the afterlife came up. One asked what I think happens when we die, to which I said something along the lines of “Nothing. We just die, and that’s it.”

Surprised, he asked, “And you’re okay with that?”

Does it matter if I’m not? If God doesn’t exist, if there is no afterlife, would he spontaneously come into being just because a lot of people think Heaven would be nice? Sure, I admit, it probably would be nice. Who wouldn’t want to have the possibility of everlasting peace and happiness instead of an absolute end? (Not that you’d care once the end came. You’d be dead, afterall. Sometimes I think people picture sitting around in a dark room being bored until the end of time.) Better yet, if God did exist, could we kill him by wishing he didn’t? I would have thought the all-mighty creator would be a bit tougher than a fairy in Never-Never Land.

The fallacy of the argument is even more obvious in the case of evolution. Go ahead and say evolution (or more to the point, genetics) caused the Holocaust if you want (I won’t believe you, but go ahead and say it). It doesn’t mean you can declare that evolution is incorrect to make up for it. Even if it is wrong for other reasons, this certainly isn’t one of them.

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